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Speculation: What are the Avari like?

Registered User

Aug 6 2013, 6:01am

Post #1 of 8 (595 views)
Speculation: What are the Avari like? Can't Post

Tolkien tells us very little about them! But perhaps we can draw speculations based on the way a relationship with Valinor (or lack thereof) seems to have affected other Elf cultures.

So just for fun, what do you imagine the Avari are like? How do you think they might be different from (or similar to) the Vanyar, Noldor, Sindar, Silvans, et cetera?

Tol Eressea

Aug 6 2013, 1:42pm

Post #2 of 8 (392 views)
I always thought of them..... [In reply to] Can't Post

As being similar to the Green Elves of Ossiriand, and I'm not sure why! Lol

Fredeghar Wayfarer

Aug 6 2013, 5:45pm

Post #3 of 8 (368 views)
Tribal Elves [In reply to] Can't Post

The Avari seem very isolationist and tribal to me. They were mistrustful of the Valar and refused the summons so they're wary of outsiders. Tolkien mentions that there are at least six Avari languages, all derived from Primitive Quendian. That also indicates a tribal society with different groups of Avari mostly keeping to themselves and developing their own languages and customs. If I recall, Eol the Dark Elf was an Avar and he also was very proud and mistrustful of authority, to the point that he was willing to try and kill himself and his son rather than submit to Turgon's rule.

I picture the Avari as existing in various clans in the East, very proud and suspicious of outsiders. Some might live in Dorwinion making the wine that they send up the river to the Wood-elves. But this would be the extent of their contact with the wider world. That's how I picture the "pure blood" Avari. The Avari who wandered west would have been mostly assimilated into Silvan Elf culture, I assume.

Tol Eressea

Aug 7 2013, 1:49pm

Post #4 of 8 (310 views)
Did the Avari affect the Chinese civilization? [In reply to] Can't Post

On this "another level of imagination", where Middle-Earth is our fictional past... if the Eldar left something of the Elvish memory in the cultures of the Edain, did the Avari have their influence in the cultures of the Far East?

Anyway, OP's question is good, and something I wonder often, for I really like the Avari. Apparently they didn't build great kingdoms or cities, but lived more in the hiding amid the nature. Their languages also seem to have diverted more than those of the Eldar, so perhaps they didn't keep much contact into each other, but lived in small scattered tribes.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied

Grey Havens

Aug 7 2013, 3:56pm

Post #5 of 8 (316 views)
Tatyarin Avari [In reply to] Can't Post

At one point Tolkien did imagine Eol as an Avar, but if I recall correctly, later he imagined Eol as Eldarin.

In response to the thread in general...

... according to Quendi And Eldar, the Nelyarin or 'Lindarin' Avari [Avari from the Third Clan] could be friendly with their 'Telerin brothers', and later often merged in Eriador and in the Anduin Vale. The Avarin Elves known as Penni were said to be among the most friendly to the fugitives from Beleriand [that noted, even later text published in Unfinished Tales suggests that the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood are Telerin, with no mention, at least, of any Avari mixing in here].

The Avari in general continued to call themselves 'the people' [see the forms, for examples: kindi, cuind, hwenti, windan, kinn-lai, penni], regarding those who went away as deserters.

It was noted that the Tatyarin Avari of Beleriand [Avari from the Second Clan, from which clan came the Noldor as well], were unfriendly to the Noldor, and jealous of their more exalted kin, whom they accused of arrogance.

However, a later text [I think it's Of Dwarves And Men maybe] seems to say that it was doubtful that any of the Avari reached Beleriand [at least], but I'm not sure there is any way to know whether JRRT had forgotten what he had already written, or was purposely revising it.

Or if there is, I forget Wink

(This post was edited by Elthir on Aug 7 2013, 4:06pm)


Aug 7 2013, 6:11pm

Post #6 of 8 (291 views)
It would seem strange [In reply to] Can't Post

if the Avari arrived in Beleriand in significant numbers. Wasn't the whole point of them that they refused to go to Valinor? It's hard to imagine the Avari wandering that way since it's the direction they refused to go, and it's a great distance that requires some determination to traverse, unless doubt and curiosity made some make the trek. But if they did get there somehow, I would expect them to dislike the overconfident Noldor.

As for those who remained in the east, that's a question I ponder too. It's hard to imagine Elves as savages or cavemen, since they weren't that way when the Valar first met them, but I think they're primitive in various respects, living in little bands instead of kingdoms, having rude dwellings instead of Menegroths, being suspicious of other races and having little to do with them, and being poor in artisanship.

I suppose the Dwarves learned Elvish from Avari, so they had to have dealings of some kind, but even in Beleriand, Dwarf-trade didn't equal friendship. I'd guess the Avari only traded with the Dwarves at need without becoming friends, but who knows, maybe they turned out better than I give them credit for.

Grey Havens

Aug 8 2013, 4:54pm

Post #7 of 8 (276 views)
trying to locate the Refusers [In reply to] Can't Post

I was surprised a bit to find Avari in Beleriand too, although in Quendi And Eldar [Q&E] Tolkien did note that the Sindar had become aware of 'small and secret groups' of Avari that had crept into Beleriand from the South. So not huge numbers here, it would seem.

Tolkien added that any individual Avar who joined with or was admitted among the Sindar [noting that 'it rarely happened' too] became a 'Calben', but that these Avari in general remained secretive, 'hostile to the Eldar and untrustworthy; and they dwelt in hidden places in the deeper woods or caves'. Were these Tatyarin Avari? That's what text later in the essay seems to say, for the Lindarin Avari are also noted as seemingly more friendly to the Eldar, often merging later in Eriador and the Anduin Vale, as noted.

Avari at heart here in Q&E it is noted that the Noldor asserted that most of the Teleri were Avari at heart, and that only the Eglain really regretted being left in Beleriand -- while the Teleri asserted that most of the Noldor in Aman itself were in heart Avari, and returned to Middle-earth when they discovered their mistake.

Hmm Smile

But perhaps Tolkien would later ask himself the same question however: did the Avari, 'the Refusers' really pass into Beleriand?


'Those who had never made the journey to the West Shores were called 'the Refusers' (Avari). It is doubtful if any of the Avari ever reached Beleriand or were actually known to the Numenoreans.'

JRRT, Of Dwarves And Men

This is a late text, certainly later than Quendi And Eldar [again, in which the Avari do make it to Beleriand]. And what about Eriador and the Anduin Vale, where these Elves appear to have later merged?


Despite that Words, Phrases And Passages [WPP] is dated to around the same time as Quendi And Eldar, in WPP Tolkien notes [entry yrch]:


(...) Actually in the L.R. no Avarin language appears, and such Elves as appear are, if not actually High-Elves of Noldorin origin, of Eldarin origin, or small peoples that have come under Eldarin influence, and become assimilated.

(...) Avari would not, at this period, be found West of the Misty Mountains. In Eriador such Elves as remained, or were gathered under the protection of Elrond, were either Nandor, or else Sindar and Noldor, fugitives from the destruction of Beleriand...' (...) Many of them [Nandor] remained in Eriador, where they were probably the only Elvish inhabitants of that great region in the Second Age and early Third Age.'

JRRT, Words, Phrases And Passages

It appears there are no Avari in Eriador according to this. And I don't think [although I'm not wholly positive] that they are mentioned in Of Dwarves And Men [again itself a late text], at least, although we do hear of certain realms in Eriador where Elves could be found.

East of the Mountains of Mist

It had been noted in Quendi And Eldar that penni is found in the Wood Elven speech of the Anduin Vale, to my mind suggesting that some Avari had merged among the Silvan Elves, as agrees with the general description already noted, but in another late text, published in an Appendix to the history of Galadriel and Celeborn, titled The Silvan Elves And Their Speech [Unfinished Tales], there is the description that the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien were descendants of the Telerin Nandor, and they hid themselves in the woodlands...


'... and became a small and scattered people, hardly to be distinguished from Avari: but they still remembered that they were in origin Eldar,...'

To me this seems to distinguish them from Avari anyway. Maybe some Avari merged with them later? Although I realize lack of evidence is hardly evidence, if I recall correctly no later merging is noted here, in any case. I think the possibility remains [as compelling as that may or may not be] open that Tolkien simply means these were all Telerin Elves in origin, later joined by Sindar from the West.

Or not Smile

I mean if my suggestion here is really true, that would basically mean that Q&E had Avari in Beleriand, Eriador, and merging with some Silvan Elves east of the Misty Mountains -- but then Tolkien decides that no, they all stayed to the East of these lands.

Hmm. In any case, the Silvan Elves of Lorien are implied to have sailed Over Sea -- at least some of them, although the description, being brief and general, appears to imply that 'all' could. Granted, brief and general might explain itself: that is, the more detailed scenario could include Avarin Elves who would not sail West in any event. And Tolkien might not be interested in digressing about who wanted to sail West and who refused...

... but again, generally speaking sailing Over Sea doesn't seem all that 'refusical' to me. Or some other word.

Anyway I note Amroth's words to Nimrodel [another late text in Unfinished Tales] about sailing Over Sea.

(This post was edited by Elthir on Aug 8 2013, 5:00pm)

Tol Eressea

Aug 9 2013, 10:11pm

Post #8 of 8 (265 views)
avari vs teleri [In reply to] Can't Post

I have read the Sil, and I was always under the impression that the Avari didn't leave Cuvienen area at all because they were too distrustful of the Valar, and the Silvan elves of Mirkwood and the Anduin vale were descended from those of the Teleri who were too frightened to cross the Misty Mountains.

I know it is a very simple analysis, but that is always what I have thought. Perhaps Melkor eventually killed off the Avari of Cuvienen as the Valar feared (or morphed into orcs, if those rumors of the origins of orcs are to be believed)

Tauriel (as her hair catches during BO5A)- Ah, now I understand why you keep your beard so short, master Kili!
Kili: Um, because it grows slowly? (glares at her for perceived insult)
Tauriel: Because your arrows don't get tangled in your *^%*(^$%* beard every time you shoot! (more curses as it gets further tangled)
Kili: Um, YEAH! That's it! That's why I keep my beard short! (strides off triumphantly with a huge grin on his face, still shooting arrows as the cursing and tangles continues behind him)

Tauriel keeps fighting the tangles on the battlefield long after Dain takes the throne and Dale is rebuilt. Frodo takes the ring to Morder and once Sauron is defeated she FINALLY gets the last arrow out.


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